Gimino begins Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history



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The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 47 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.

LaMonte Hunley is No. 50 on Anthony Gimino's list of the Top 50 Arizona football players in the history of the program

LaMonte Hunley is No. 50 on Anthony Gimino’s list of the Top 50 Arizona football players in the history of the program

Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com is ranking his top 50 players in Arizona history, starting today with former Arizona linebacker LaMonte Hunley at No. 50.

Hunley is the younger brother of College Football Hall of Fame linebacker Ricky Hunley, who made this site’s All-Time All-Pac-10/12 Team for Arizona.

Gimino’s ranking should be a must-read for Arizona followers, especially considering he covered Arizona’s football team for The Arizona Daily Star during the best years of the Dick Tomey era. He has as much insight as anybody over the last 30 years or so about the talent Arizona has produced.

At the end of his blog today, Gimino asks readers to offer their top 10 players in Arizona history at the AGWildcat Report Facebook page.

Here’s my Top 10:

10. Max Zendejas — He never was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection but he became legendary, providing Arizona some of their most memorable victories with last-second field goals against Notre Dame and ASU (twice) and was always a long-range threat.

9. Lance Briggs — One of the most athletically gifted Wildcats, started as a fullback (who had standout games as a freshman) and excelled after converting to linebacker his sophomore season.

8. Byron Evans — The only reason why Evans, Arizona’s best pursuit tackler in the history of the program, was not at least a three-time All-Pac-10 first-team selection is because he had to bide his time behind the Hunley brothers in 1984 and 1985.

7. Joe Tofflemire — One of only five Arizona three-time All-Pac-10 first-team selections (Hunley, Bruschi, McAlister and Lance Briggs are the others), and he did it at a position that can go unnoticed — center.

6. Art Luppino — The times were different back in the 1950s, but the “Cactus Comet” still deserves praise for leading the NCAA in rushing in consecutive years (1954-55), the first back to lead the nation twice in rushing.

5. Chris McAlister — The UA’s shutdown cornerback and return specialist led the Wildcats to a 12-1 record in 1998 and was also only the third unanimous All-American (following Waldrop and Bruschi).

4. Chuck Cecil — Arizona’s career interception leader with 21, Cecil also made the best play in the program’s history, a 106-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Wildcats’ 34-17 upset of ASU in 1986.

3. Tedy Bruschi — The most glorified of the Desert Swarm players, he holds the NCAA career sack record of 52 with former Alabama player Derrick Thomas.

2. Rob Waldrop — One of the most decorated Arizona players in history as a College Football Hall of Famer and winner of the Outland Trophy in 1992 and Bronko Nagurski Award in 1993.

1. Ricky Hunley — Arizona’s career tackles leader, he helped Larry Smith make Arizona a national program, especially with him heading west with his brother from Virginia.

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The best Arizona player to wear No. 47 for Arizona is linebacker Steve Boadway (1981-84). He led the Pac-10 with 13 sacks in 1984, and that year knocked the ball loose from ASU QB Jeff Van Raaphorst, resulting in a late-game interception in UA’s 16-10 win.

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Last year, I ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series at this site and TucsonCitizen.com. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December. I will keep the ranking of that game secret in the new top 50 list until the day I publish it.

No. 47 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish (TucsonCitizen.com)

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The Jim Thorpe Award watch list was announced Friday. The watch-list announcements will continue through July 19. This site will update after the announcements.

The current Pac-12 breakdown (by school) of players on the watch lists:

1. Stanford 15
2. USC 13
3. ASU 11
Oregon 11
5. Oregon State 7
7. Washington 4
8. Colorado 3
9. Arizona 2
Washington State 2
11. Utah 1
California 1

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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.


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